Volltext: The German work-student

 essential and characteristic constituent of German university life resting upon the idea-  
5 listic belief that every intellectual accomplishment of worth requires free inner impulse  
 for its most nourishing and fertile soil.  
 During recent generations the study of professional and of special subjects has bulked  
 more largely than the idealistic conception of the German classical period considered  
 desirable. For some years, however, and more intensely so since the war, the general  
 course of studies has been again laid upon the more comprehensive ground of the  
2 synthetical nature and relation of all branches of knowledge. This intellectual situation,  
 which in happier circumstances might perhaps have been widely extended, cannot be  
Z brought to its full development because of the real poverty even of those students  
5 that wish to deepen and enlarge their culture but whose pressing need obliges them  
 to reckon with as speedy a termination of their studies as possible and to limit these  
 against their will to such subjects as will enable them to earn their daily bread.  
E By far the greatest number of students belong to the middle classes, but those of  
 the lower middle classes are as numerous as those of the upper. For those capable  
Z of so using it the university in Germany is an instrument for social advancement, as  
Z it was even under the old regime. On the other hand, the problem of the social  
Z composition of the body of students lies today in the question whether just those grades  
Z in the middle classes that have inherited the most intellectually valuable and produc-  
2 tive talents will in the future be in a position to provide academical education for  
 their sons, whether it is not just these, who as bearers of the tradition and ideals of  
 intellectual work have been indispensable in Germany, that will be reluctantly driven  
 to purely material occupations.  
 The German universities, professors as well as students, have now the reputation  
E of taking up a political attitude that is reactionary and chauvinistic and of bearing in  
 their banners only the colours of the past. lt must be admitted that most of the stu-  
 dents, not being able to find their way in the difficult political needs of the present,  
Z are looking to the past for their ideals of state and government. But those who in  
 other countries are inclined to denounce the academic youth of Germany for its chau-  
 vinism should ask themselves what attitude the students of Oxford or of Harvard  
 would take up if they had to look on and see large home territories torn away from  
i their beloved native country and other parts occupied and their population ill-treated  
 by hostile neighbours. Would they in such circumstances find for their youthful ideals  
2 of loyalty and honour some expression more gentle and resigned? Those that can  
 realise this will after some consideration feel how hard are the outer and inner con-  
Z ditions of life in which the German students of today are growing up and how deep  
 are the shadows darkening the future that lies before them.  
 The future of the German universities depends much on whether the structural foun-  
 dations upon which they have achieved and accomplished so much in the past can be  
 held firm. lt is not only material things that are here in danger, but intellectual trea-  
 sures, which belong not to the German nation alone but to mankind at large. So  
 much of the intellectual progress of humanity has for hundreds for years been bound  
 up with the German universities that their decay and downfall would be a loss for  
 the whole world such as could not easily be made good again.  
" s7


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